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Executed former Pak PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not receive fair trial, says Pak SC

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Islamabad, March 6: Former Pakistan prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, executed by the military regime in 1979, did not receive a fair trial, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday. Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa announced the unanimous opinion of a nine-member larger bench of the apex court during the hearing of a presidential reference related to the death sentence given to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder. It is based on a special case sent in 2011 by then president Asif Ali Zardari to the Supreme Court to revisit his father-in-law Bhutto’s conviction for abetment in a murder case and his eventual hanging in 1979.
Announcing the unanimous opinion, Isa said, “The proceedings of the trial by the Lahore High Court and the appeal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan do not meet the requirements of the fundamental right to a fair trial and due process enshrined in Articles 4 and 9 of the Constitution and later guaranteed as a separate and fundamental right under Article 10A of the Constitution.” The apex court voiced its opinion but also ruled that the verdict of Bhutto’s death sentence could not be changed as the Constitution and law did not allow so, and it would be maintained as a verdict. The Supreme Court will issue a detailed opinion later. The execution of Bhutto, 51, was carried out after a seven-member Supreme Court upheld the conviction, which many believe was done under coercion exercised by the then-military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq, who had toppled Bhutto’s government in 1977. Bhutto’s supporters, who later termed his hanging as a “judicial murder”, accused the military ruler and the apex court of colluding to hang an elected prime minister on trumped-up charges. They demanded the top court to undo the unjust treatment meted out to Bhutto. On April 2, 2011, Zardari approached the top court through a presidential reference under Article 186 of the Constitution to seek its opinion on revisiting the trial of the PPP party founder. (PTI)

Isa took up the case for hearing last year after becoming the chief justice. (PTI)

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